Our daily lives are often be busy and full of competing priorities. When we become overwhelmed we may experience stress, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness or any number of negative affects on our health. Regardless of the consequences, we can all benefit from a little prevention and the answer there is daily self care.
While balancing the needs of your work, family and everything else, what do you do for you? How do you keep you refuel your tank? What brings you joy?
You may think you don't have time for this, but if you don't make time for yourself, eventually you'll end up burnt out and unhappy. So what can we do to care for ourselves? Let's start with the basics:
FOOD: 3 good clean meals each day gives us the energy we need to meet all of our tasks. Grabbing take out out the fly or devouring a bag of chips between commitments may be a quick solution but we pay for it immediately with how we feel and our ability to perform. If you don't have the time to cook 3 meals each day, pick one day a week for meal prep, portioning it out and packing it up in advance. Then you can still grab and go but with healthy foods. If you're an avid snacker or you know you don't like to go long between meals, pack some fruit, veggies and nuts as snacks.
SLEEP: Healthy adults require 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Sleep deprivation causes irritability & cognitive impairments like poor judgement, difficulty focusing and memory loss. In addition to stress, lack of sleep can cause aches, tremors and even increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. So give yourself the time you need to unwind, rest and reset for a new day. If you have trouble sleeping, get help. I struggled with getting a good night's rest for years and know first hand the extreme importance and effect is has on quality of life....but that's a whole separate blog post.
EXERCISE: The heart and stroke foundation suggests 150 minutes or moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. That's as little as a ten to twenty minutes per day. There's a million and one ways to get your daily activity, so take your pick. A brisk walk to work, a nice swim in the lake, yoga, tai chi, joining a recreational sports league etc. your options are endless. If you don't like gyms, don't join one. If you'd rather take a dance class, do that! Find a way to move that you enjoy. It doesn't have to be painful or challenging for you to reap the rewards. You just have to do whatever it is with consistency. I once had a student who came to me and said he hated his gym work outs so he knew they were working. He loved his yoga classes so he wasn't sure he was benefiting from them. This made me laugh. Any physical activity is activity. If you're not going to go to the gym because you hate it, then go somewhere else. There's no right or wrong way to move, so just get moving!
JUST FOR YOU: These are the big and basic 3. Now how can we take better care of ourselves? Take a moment and think of something you do for you. Just for you. Can you do that when you wake up in the morning? Whether it's enjoying a quiet cup of tea while looking out the window, journalling, reading poetry, meditating, gardening etc. Can you make at least 5 minutes for yourself to enjoy this every day? I suggest doing something for yourself each morning when you wake. This sets the tone for your day and allows you to check in with yourself before jumping into the world of outside influence. Create a morning ritual just for you and give yourself 5 minutes before bed to do the same. Commit to yourself to practice this small gesture for 30 days and see how you feel.
REFUEL: You can't pour from an empty cup so how do you fill yours? I love a good massage or day at the spa and if I'm watching my budget I bring the spa home to me. A nice hot tub with my favourite essential oil pairs perfectly with some epsom salts for sore muscles and a good book. Perhaps there's a nice face mask you'd like to try out before you hop in the tub or maybe you'd love a new coat of your old favourite polish on your toes. You don't have to break the bank to spoil yourself and show yourself a little love. If you're an outdoorsy type who find peace in nature, go for a hike, wander through the woods or grab your four-legged friend and take in a night under the stars at a near by campsite. Self-care is as diverse as you are, so do whatever leaves you feeling calm and fulfilled. If you don't know what that is, try a few things out and see how they leave you feeling.
JOY: Don't forget to have fun! Kids have a natural capacity for joy. They laugh freely and find fun in everything. What do you find fun in? What brings you joy? I often have impromptu dance parties in the kitchen for no reason other than it's fun. If my husband's around he'll join the silliness and the layers of laughter only add to the occasion. I find much joy in music so I try to pick up an instrument and sing daily. Whether it's mantra or karaoke, it always lifts my mood. Sometimes you just need a good laugh, so pop on you favourite comedy or invite a friend over for tea. It's equally as important to spend time cultivating joy as it is working otherwise what are we working for?
Thanks for reading. I hope this helps you practice sweet self care and feel your best. Please feel free to share how you practice self care below or any feedback/experiences your'd like.